Trump wasn't fully aware of allegations against ex-aide Porter

Trump wasn't fully aware of allegations against ex-aide Porter

The episode has thrust Trump's senior-most aides, many of whom have already been embroiled in controversy related to special counsel Robert Mueller III's Russian Federation investigation, into yet another crisis.

US President Donald Trump favours a merit-based immigration system, which attracts the best and the brightest from across the world, the White House has said.

The White House, which had backed Porter until the photo was published amid allegations of domestic abuse, said Porter's last day as White House staff secretary was on Wednesday, when he resigned.

Porter said he will leave the White House after a transition period. "The emerging reports were not reflective of the individual who we had come to know", Shah said. So he was surprised by it.

Amid questions about why Porter was forced to resign only after the allegations became public, Shah refused to give details about when and how Chief of Staff John Kelly in particular became aware of the claims.

"He became fully aware of these allegations yesterday", Shah said of Kelly, later adding that he had "not seen images prior to the statement on Tuesday night".

Porter denied the allegations in a statement announcing his resignation Wednesday, which he called part of a "smear campaign" against him. "There is no place for domestic violence in our society".

"Sometimes, good people make bad decisions", Republican Senator John Kennedy said in an interview with CNN. "I don't care who you are, even if you are a Rhodes scholar, you can't beat the hell out of your spouse. It's wrong", he said.

On Thursday, the deputy press secretary pushed back against those charges, saying Kelly was not "fully aware" of the allegations against Porter until the graphic photos surfaced on Wednesday.

There was no sign, however, that Kelly was in danger of losing his job. Ahead of his briefing, Sanders took to Twitter and described Shah as "one of the best and the brightest in the Trump administration".

"He was surprised. He, like many of us, did not see that in Rob Porter, did not see what those allegations have brought forward", Shah said during his debut appearance at the daily press briefing.

Kelly was brought into the West Wing to bring calm to Trump's tumultuous operation but recently has created some of his own chaos, rattling aides and lawmakers with inflammatory remarks and political missteps.

Just this week, he told reporters that some illegal immigrants eligible for protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme may have chosen not to sign up because they are "too lazy to get off their asses".

Shah also sought to address news reports that Porter's ex-wives had told the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the alleged abuse months ago as part of a background check on Porter that was being conducted so that he could obtain a security clearance.

The New Yorker magazine earlier this week reported messages showing Shah calling the release of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, as "some justice", a dig at Trump.

Shah said Porter was "terminated" but later clarified he was not fired.

The spokesman added that the allegations are "serious and disturbing", but he repeatedly noted that Porter denied wrongdoing. He was never given any special treatment.

Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby told the Daily Mail they experienced physical and emotional abuse during their marriages to Porter and the tabloid published a 2010 protective order obtained by his second wife alongside photos of his first wife's bruised face. Reuters has not independently confirmed the allegations.

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